The Linguist

The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL JUNE/JULY The Linguist 19 FEATURES children can access age- and stage-appropriate learning, regardless of levels of English." Enrichment programme This is achieved through a range of strategies. Sometimes it might be appropriate to bring in an interpreter, for example when parents visit the school. Sometimes children need support from the school's EAL teachers. In certain subjects, such as maths, it may be possible to bypass language issues by using practical assessments to gauge children's ability. Digital technology also helps the school to include EAL pupils and their families, for example through online translations of the school newsletter. By improving the children's digital literacy, the school can also achieve its goal of providing age-appropriate learning to all pupils. Creating animations and videos develops their storytelling abilities, regardless of language, as well as increasing their understanding of topic work. "We're changing the mindset that, because you don't have language, you can't learn," says Christopher Stewart, who leads the school's digital literacy strategy. The school also recognises that language needs can obscure other needs. It has a unit for children with additional learning needs, but Harker stresses that a wide range of problems can be masked by language needs, including poverty. In practice, only a small percentage of the pupils need support because they are new to English, as the majority can converse well in the language. However, conversational fluency can mask gaps both in everyday English and in academic English. "We realised pupils might not know that 'minus', 'subtract' and 'take away' are words for the same thing," Orr explains. Similarly, pupils may know the word 'good' and how to use it, but not know other words for 'good'. This, combined with a lack of engagement with the arts outside school, can make it harder for them to use imaginative language. For this reason, the school spends part of its Pupil Equity Fund on artistic and musical endeavours. Projects such as a whole-class art installation help to improve musical and artistic language, as well as being satisfying in themselves. "We've created a literacy- rich environment based on conversation and talk," says Harker. "We're a noisier school than we were, and our children are learning English faster than before." If they don't speak English at home, pupils may also have gaps in their informal English. For example, Orr, who is a languages graduate and has experience of learning a language overseas, discovered that some pupils did not understand expressions such as 'chuck' or 'messing around'. One way the school overcomes this is by taking the children out of the school into situations they may not have experienced before – or may not have experienced in English. Excursions have ranged from visiting the People's Palace museum to taking the bus to Glasgow's markets. These trips are also a way of including parents in their children's education and in the work of the school. The visit to the markets was for parents and children, and there was also a trip to the seaside for the Syrian families. As well as enriching the children's vocabulary, this created an opportunity for intercultural dialogue for the families. It's an approach that requires vision. Harker has that in spades, but the authorities have shown vision too. Asked if she could run her school the way she does in England, Harker is unequivocal: "No." Two class teachers who came to the school from the London area agree. In fact, St Albert's is unique, and when Orr suggests the school could not be run as it is outside Glasgow, Harker does not demur. "Glasgow gives us a lot freedom," she says. "They believe head teachers should know their school." Notes 1 Education Scotland (2005) 'Learning in 2 (+) Languages: Ensuring effective inclusion for bilingual learners'. Education Scotland; DYNAMIC LESSONS Giving children the opportunity to experience different environments, such as outdoor learning (above) and school trips (below) helps to enrich their vocabulary and, when parents are involved, supports the whole school community

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